RG2021: What we learned from the women's events

 - Simon Cambers

As a fortnight of incredible tennis draws to a close, here's a look at some of the biggest takeaways from the women's action

Barbora Krejcikova, Roland Garros 2021, trophy shoot© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

The favourites tumbled, a teenager came knocking and ultimately, an unseeded Czech with huge inspiration claimed the title.

The women’s event had it all at Roland-Garros 2021. Here are a few things we learned from the women’s tournament in Paris.

Czechs crown another champion

The conveyor belt of talent from the Czech Republic shows no sign of stopping after the 25-year-old Barbora Krejcikova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win her first Grand Slam title on Saturday.

Inspired by the late Jana Novotna, Krejcikova was the first Czech woman to win the title in Paris since Hana Mandlikova in 1981. Having already won doubles and mixed titles at Grand Slams, she has transformed herself into a singles player, too, and with an all-round game, she could do well on other surfaces.

Women's tennis has never had more depth

For the sixth consecutive year, the women’s champion at Roland-Garros was a first-time Slam winner.

But although the big names did not make it through to the last four, Krejcikova, Pavlyuchenkova, Maria Sakkari and Tamara Zidansek all produced tennis worthy of being in any Slam final.

All four should be hugely encouraged by their performances, adding to the number of women who can be considered genuine contenders to win a Grand Slam title.

Tamara Zidansek, Roland-Garros 2021, semi-final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Pavlyuchenkova sets example of perseverance

If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try and try again 52 times. That was the secret for Pavlyuchenkova, who went beyond the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam event for the first time, having fallen at that stage six times before.

The Russian battled a leg injury from midway through the tournament but showed enough to suggest she would be back at the business end of Slams again soon.

Gauff rising fast

After winning her first title on clay in Parma just before Roland-Garros and reaching the semi-finals in Rome, the 17-year-old Coco Gauff was many people’s outside pick for a big run in Paris.

And the American duly delivered, reaching the quarter-finals with some brilliant tennis before running into eventual champion, Krejcikova. Mature beyond her years, Gauff said she would learn more from her defeats than her wins. She will be back.

Cori Gauff, Roland-Garros 2021©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Swiatek here to stay

As all the leading favourites fell around her, the defending champion Iga Swiatek kept her head and looked for all the world like she would win again until Sakkari had her best day in a Grand Slam event to date.

Though she could not get past the Greek, Swiatek proved she could handle the pressure, which bodes well for the future. The Pole would not leave Paris empty-handed, however, given her runner-up finish alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands in women's doubles.

Williams on the right track

After playing just three clay-court matches in the build-up – and losing two – Serena Williams arrived in Paris short on match practice. But the American looked pretty good in her first three rounds at Roland-Garros until Elena Rybakina took her out in the last 16.

The 39-year-old Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, said she just needed to start winning the big points to make another deep run. Look out, Wimbledon.

Vesnina makes impressive return

Once a champion, always a champion. Elena Vesnina returned to Grand Slam action for the first time since the birth of her first child and hit the ground running, dropping just one game in her opening round against Olga Govortsova before reaching the third round when Petra Kvitova suffered an off-court ankle injury.

While Rybakina ended her singles run, she reached the final of the mixed doubles with Russian compatriot Aslan Karatsev in a pairing likely to be seen again later this year at the Tokyo Olympics.

Alslan Karatsev, Elena Vesnina, Roland-Garros 2021, mixed doubles semi-final© Philippe Montigny/FFT

More Czech champions coming

With Linda Noskova winning the girls’ singles title, the future also looks bright for Czech tennis. The 16-year-old Novoska beat Russian Erika Andreeva 7-6(3), 6-3 to win her first junior Grand Slam title and said the efforts of Petra Kvitova and in particular, Barbora Strycova, had inspired her, along with her idol, Serena Williams.

She was the first Czech to win the girls' singles title in Paris since Mandlikova in 1978. Pojd!

Erika Andreeva, Linda Noskova, Roland-Garros 2021, girls' singles final © Julien Crosnier/FFT

Double duty trending again

There was a time when playing singles and doubles at all tournaments was a given. The likes of Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe would be the first to remind us, while Venus and Serena Williams kept it up for as long as they could.

But this past fortnight in Paris has shown us that several women are able to handle the workload as we got to witness Krejcikova become the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to sweep the singles and doubles titles at Roland-Garros.

Swiatek made quarters in singles and the final in doubles, Rybakina reached the last-eight stage in both singles and doubles, while Pavlyuchenkova fell in the doubles quarter-finals and finished as runner-up in singles. Could this trend continue moving forward?

Barbora Krejcikova, Katerina Siniakova, Roland Garros 2021, women's doubles final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT